Sextile’s Rejuvenated Brilliance: A Review of Their Hometown Show at the Fonda Rreview+Photos: Sextile, 3L3D3P & VR Sex at The Fonda 9/14/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- The last time I saw Sextile, it was almost five years ago at the Teragram Ballroom, an opener for Shame, thrusting the audience into their rhythmic dark wave atmosphere in support of their album, ‘3’. It was a time of discovery and potential. But then, in a shattering moment, we all heard about the passing of their founding member, Eddie Wuebben. The loss was tangible, and what followed was an uncertain hiatus that left many wondering if Sextile would ever return to the stage.
The grieving process, as it often does, resulted in an outpour of emotion and eventually led to artistic rebirth. After a noticeable gap, 2022 saw the dawn of new tracks from the band. And as the singles and EPs flowed, there was a palpable sense that they were building up to something substantial.
That buildup resulted in their third studio album, ‘Push’, released this September. It was more than a comeback; it was, as *Allmusic* aptly put it, a reincarnation. The first album for Sacred Bones, ‘Push’ offers a deft blend of punk and electronica, a result of Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto’s refreshed enthusiasm. With tracks that transport listeners from a mosh pit to a rave, the album flexes the boundaries of genres. The album’s standout numbers like “Crassy Mel” and “No Fun” magnify Scaduto’s vocal presence, while the likes of “LA DJ” serve up a heady dose of satire, showcasing the duo’s evolution and versatility.
They’ve matured, having faced profound loss, and have channelled that pain into an eclectic mix of punk and electronic music that screams of their unmistakable zeal. The album exceeds all expectations, and spits tons attitude and raw energy right into your earhole. Track after track thumps with a sense of triumph and pride and I love it.
With the release of ‘Push’, my anticipation to witness Sextile live again grew exponentially, leading me to the Fonda for their hometown show.
VR Sex. The name conjures visions of a cybernetic and carnal future. A choice opening for the sonic titans, Sextile, this was the band’s chance to stamp their imprint onto the darkwave aficionados of Hollywood. And they didn’t merely leave a mark; they etched an indelible sigil.
The opening strains of their set resonated with a mechanical foreboding, a call-back to the prime era of post-punk while pushing defiantly into a realm of their own. For the uninitiated, their sound might have seemed a juxtaposition—hauntingly nostalgic yet imbued with a fresh vibrancy. Every beat, every synth pulse, bore the weight of nocturnal escapades and neon-lit alleys.
Front and center was the enigmatic lead singer, whose vocals oscillated between the dirge-like laments of a wounded soul and the powerful bellows of an underworld preacher. There was an uncanny ability to draw the crowd into a shared trance. As melodies spiraled and converged, it felt like a seance, each song channeling spirits of a bygone age while beckoning us into the future.
However, it wasn’t just about the voice. The synthesis of droning guitars, relentless drum patterns, and ethereal synth loops created a tapestry of sound that felt expansive and encompassing. The visuals, too, played a significant role. Bathed in deep, dark hues of purple and blue, the lighting provided a spectral backdrop to their musical narrative, occasionally punctuated with violent reds, mirroring the moods of their sonic journey.
Anticipation filled the room as 3L3D3P prepared to take the stage. I was largely unfamiliar with her, but my online research revealed that she’s also known as Milloux or Millouxsuicide and is a key figure in the “Vada-Vada” music group. This eclectic movement was pioneered by the twin brothers, Wyatt and Fletcher Shears of The Garden. My first foray into her music that night felt like a plunge into an auditory alternate universe.
With an undeniable aura, 3L3D3P illuminated the atmosphere, blending experimental music with captivating electronica and rhythmic beats. There’s a tangible intersection of rock’s edge and the vibrant energy of hip-hop and electronica in her sound.
Witnessing 3L3D3P’s performance was like seeing the power of musical fusion in real-time. More than just her music, her intriguing presence captivated me. In an era where artists endlessly chase distinction, 3L3D3P proves she’s a genuine standout.
As the lights dimmed at the Fonda and the first beats of their set hit the air, the crowd – myself included – was transported. It was clear that the new Sextile, although different, had retained their core: their unabashed passion for their craft. The packed crowd was alive with energy, mirroring the vitality of their latest album.
Launching their set with “Contortion,” the first track off Push, the audience was immediately ensnared by the raw electro bassline, setting the pace for a night of musical transcendence. The dark wave energy that had us spellbound years ago at the Teragram Ballroom was still there but felt more refined, a perfect blend of their past sonics with the current edgier direction.
“Modern Weekend” was a particular highlight, a track that captures LA’s darkwave vibe, making us feel the whoosh of city traffic even inside the Fonda’s historic walls. However, the night’s pinnacle was perhaps “Crash.” As the first notes started playing, the audience was treated to a surprise when Izzy Glaudini of Automatic graced the stage to perform her duet. The synergy between Glaudini and Brady was palpable, and their combined energy transformed the song into a pulsating anthem of emotion and artistry.
Throughout the show, the band’s chemistry was evident. The songs from their latest album, ‘Push’, felt more alive than ever, confirming that their live act is where Sextile truly shines. Their rendition of “No Fun” was both a nostalgic nod and a fresh take, encapsulating the evening’s duality of old and new.
Between the songs, as I wandered the venue to get different shots for the photo gallery, I happened upon Quincy Larsen, now performing as “Dove Armitage”. A former guitarist for Sextile, her presence was a testament to the deep roots and bonds the band has fostered over the years. The halls of the Fonda buzzed with such reunions, making the night not just a concert, but a gathering of old friends and die-hard fans.
The encores took the show to an even higher level of intensity. Inviting friends to dance on stage, Sextile turned the Fonda into an electrifying dance party with tracks like “Crisis” and “Visions.” The inclusivity of the gesture, the shared euphoria between the band and the audience, was a sight to behold, embodying the spirit of the LA music scene.
Closing with “Hazing,” the entire theatre felt united in one rhythm, one heartbeat. The evening was a testament to Sextile’s resilience and evolution as artists. It’s clear they’re not just back; they’re soaring higher than ever.
To say Sextile delivered would be an understatement. They didn’t just perform; they owned the night. And as the Fonda’s lights came back on and the crowd began to disperse, the echoes of their music lingered, promising many more nights of raw, unadulterated brilliance. Sextile, welcome home.